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Cheapest vacations start with tent trailers

RV vacations were found to be up to 78% cheaper when compared to several other forms of air and rental car travel, according to a study released on January 26, 2012.

Not only was the RV vacation (including RVs bigger than tent trailers) significantly more economical than these other types of travel within Canada, but it remained so regardless of the region visited, its distance or trip duration. The main cost benefits came from the flexibility of cooking in an RV and the very affordable cost of campground hookups for electricity and water: for a 10 day trip, the average total cost of campground fees was $368, while hotels would have cost $1754. Not surprisingly, the lightest form of RV, the "pop up" or "folding" tent trailer, was also the cheapest because of the fuel savings.

The study, prepared by PKF Consulting for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, compared the costs that a family would incur on typical vacations, including rental car, air fare, campsite cost, motel/hotel accommodations, fuel costs, and restaurant meals. It even factored in vehicle ownership costs, from "pop up" tent trailers to diesel Type A motorhomes.

"90% of RV owners agree that RVing is the best way to travel with children," notes Alana Fontaine, National Spokesperson for the industry organization Go RVing, alluding to the RV's more intangible benefit of giving parents a much easier way to keep kids together in a familiar and safe space.

One example calculated by the study was the average cost of a seven day RV vacation to Banff National Park using a lightweight travel trailer (heavier than a tent trailer), which was 41% cheaper than the same vacation with a car/hotel option, and about 54% cheaper than a comparable air/hotel option. Another example was a family from Montreal going on a quick three day vacation to Algonquin Park using a folding "pop up" tent trailer: this was about 43% less expensive than the cost of a comparable car/hotel combination vacation, and about 78% less than the cost of a comparable air/hotel vacation.

Fluctuations in fuel prices will obviously affect the dollar totals, but the study found that only massive spikes in cost of 100-150% would materially affect the comparison ratios for a heavy Type C motorhome, while pop up tent trailers and lightweight travel trailers would need 200-250% fuel increases to throw off its comparative results. Spikes on this scale were felt to be "not likely" in the foreseeable future.

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